ABS VS PBT Keycaps: What Will You Choose And Why?

A mechanical gaming keyboard’s keycaps can make or break your typing experience, so picking the perfect ones may be a challenging endeavor. Most keyboards have ABS or PBT keycaps, but are you confused about which one to select?

So, ABS vs PBT Keycaps: Which Should You Choose? Well, there are several advantages to using ABS over other plastics. Also, PBT is more durable and has a more pronounced tone. You can’t go wrong with either; however, some like the sound of an ABS keycap, more like GMK.

This article will break down your curiosity about ABS and PBT keycaps with all other helpful information and ways to use them ideally. Let’s go! 

What are ABS Keycaps?

When it comes to keycaps, ABS (AKA Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene), a form of copolymer plastic that’s both sturdy and resistant, as well as inexpensive to make, is often the material of choice.

Because they are so cheap, ABS keycaps often get that undesirable sheen from the grease on your fingers, which may also fade the text.

ABS plastic keycaps degrade far more quickly than other keycap materials; thus, you may notice that your keycaps have thinned down or lost their tactile bumps over time.

Injection molding is used to make ABS keycaps, where the molten material is poured into a mold to form the final product.

What Are PBT Keycaps?

Polybutylene Terephthalate (PBT) is the most durable substance to fabricate keycaps. PBT keycaps are more expensive since they are more challenging to manufacture.

The texture of cheap PBT keycaps might be abrasive, while high-quality PBT keycaps preserve a pleasing textured feel. Keycaps made of PBT may be thicker than those made of ABS. However, this is not always the case.

ABS VS PBT Keycaps Comparison Table

Factors PBT Keycaps ABS Keycaps
Ease Of Using Typing with this keyboard is a breeze. It becomes less pleasant to use after wearing.
Price Costly because of the difficulties in molding Due to decreased manufacturing costs; this item is less costly.
Longevity Comparatively long-lasting compared to other options PBT, on the other hand, lasts longer.
Thickness It is twice as heavy as ABS. Lighter than a PBT in weight
Elegance The surface is rougher and less shiny than usual. They are intricately designed and gleaming.
Keycaps with Double Shots Double-shot keycaps benefit the most from this design. Suitable for use with keycaps with two shots
The melting temperature

 

Temperatures of 225 degrees Temperature of 105-Degree
Sounds Tones down the harshness of the noises It makes a more obnoxious noise.
Best Product Drop + Matt3o MT3 Susuwatari  ABS Hi-Profile Keycaps Set HyperX Pudding Keycaps – Double Shot PBT Keycap Set

ABS VS PBT Keycaps: Main Differences

To make yourself clearer with the concept, let’s go for the detailed comparison of ABS and PBT Keycaps.

Sounds

There are a few things to keep in mind while choosing between ABS and PBT keycaps when typing.

With ABS keycaps, you’ll get the clumsy, clicky sound you’ve come to expect from low-cost construction and flimsy, rattling keys. 

It’s more precise and crisper sounding with PBT keycaps. PBT keys are thicker and more sturdy to reduce rattling, so the sound is also eliminated.

Weight

Because the heavier a keyboard’s keys are, the more responsive they are to the user’s touch. Whether you want darker or lighter shades, many individuals prefer more delicate shades.

ABS keys tend to be lighter than PBS keys in terms of weight.

In comparison to ABS keys, PBS keys are almost twice as hefty. 

As opposed to ABS, PBS keycaps provide a more comfortable typing experience.

Expense

The price difference between PBT and ABS keycaps is sometimes a decisive issue, particularly if you’re on a limited budget.

As a result of their lower production costs and ease of fabrication, ABS keycaps are the most cost-effective choice.

They are more costly because of the reverse reason: PBT keycaps are more challenging to create and hence cost more, but they are often superior in quality and durability than ABS.

Thickness

The thickness of a keycap is a crucial factor in its longevity and build quality. PBT Keycaps tend to be thicker than ABS Keycaps.

Some ABS keycaps have a thicker keycap body structure and are just as durable as PBT ones, although it also depends on the application.

Purchasing a new keyboard keyset requires thoughtful consideration. Most PBT keycaps have an edge and are somewhat thicker than ABS keycaps in terms of thickness.

Key Shining

The shine of keycaps is a consequence of the wear and tear that develops over time due to typing. When you touch the keys, your fingertips create oil, which softens the surface. It also shines brighter than when they were only a few days old.

Only ABS plastic keycaps will result in shiny keys. PBS keycaps, on the other hand, prevent this. Because most people like a flat surface on the keys, PBS keycaps are logically preferred over ABS ones.

Point Of Melting

You should pay attention to the melting point if you’re interested in manufacturing your keycaps. About 105 degrees Fahrenheit is the melting point of ABS keycaps. Temperatures of 225 degrees Fahrenheit are the melting point of PBT.

The ABS keycaps tend to mold. Making PBT keycaps is one of the most challenging undertakings. Even though PBT is favored because of its high-end durability, ABS might be a superior option for molding keycaps.

Component

As ABS keycaps use acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), they do not promote mixing other materials. ABS keycaps have lower head resistance than PBT keycaps due to this. ABS, a thermoplastic, is readily recyclable because of its low melting point and ease of modification.

Polybutylene terephthalate (PBT) keycap material is made of a thermoplastic polymer with a semi-crystalline structure, which is why these keycaps are so durable. As a result, it can withstand higher temperatures and is much more robust than ABS keycaps in this regard. 

Editor’s Note: Are Membrane Keyboards Good For Gaming

Pros And Cons OF ABS & PBT Keycaps

Type ABS PBT
Pros
  • Using ABS is a simple process that yields consistent results.
  • Economic
  • Signature of a high-pitched sound
  • Intensely pleasant feeling.
  • Options galore when it comes to design
  • The sonic signature has a mellow tone.
  • Extremely long-lasting
  • High-quality
  • Higher melting point (107°C) than ABS
  • The keycaps are not illuminated.
Cons
  • Less expensive quality.
  • Improves the luster of the keycap
  • 105°F/40.5°C is a lower melting point than PBT
  • Thinner keycaps are often used. 
  • Expensive
  • PBT is more difficult to create and regulate.
  • Warping of the keycaps
  • Lacking in possibilities for designing the product

 

So, What’s The Best- It’s Up To You!

The optimal keycaps for your mechanical keyboard will depend on how you want to use them. PBT keycaps may be the best option for gamers due to their excellent grit and long-term endurance.

On the other hand, ABS keycaps are an excellent option for those who want a quieter typing experience. Less noise is generated while typing on ABS vs PBT keycaps.

The phrase “best” is usually a matter of opinion, but if you’ve read this far, you should have a good idea of what you’re looking for in a keycap based on what we’ve covered so far.

Which Is Better For Gaming: PBT Or ABS?

Before coming to any conclusions, it’s essential to understand what a proper gaming keycap requires in hardware.

Fast-paced games need users to move their hands around a lot and answer quickly; otherwise, they might record a key with significant pressure.

There are several factors to consider when choosing between ABS and PBT keycap sets for gaming. PBT keycaps have exceptional durability and are well-designed to withstand intense pressure during keystrokes, making them ideal for gaming.

Both keycaps are constructed of plastic; however, PBT’s copolymer plastic is much more durable, resistant, and high-quality than the plastic used in the other keycaps.

PBT Or ABS Keycaps, How Can I Know?

If you’ve purchased a mechanical keyboard and are still unsure about the kind of keycaps it comes with, you can always contact the manufacturer’s website for further information.

To find out for sure, you may do a test on your own, but be aware that doing so may result in permanent damage to your keycap.

Remove the keycap and brush the inside or underside of it with an inconspicuous amount of acetone with a toothpick or tiny brush – something relatively minor in quantity but sufficient to provide an effect.

You may tell whether your keycaps are made of ABS if you observe that the area where the acetone was applied has been marked or etched. If you don’t see a mark on your keycap, it’s constructed of polycarbonate (PBT).

Be cautious not to accidentally remove a keycap from a mechanical keyboard that is explicitly marked as replaceable since doing so might destroy your device!

Editor’s Note: Are Wireless Keyboards Good For Gaming

What Are Doubleshot Keycaps?

Double shot keycaps are the common keyword while looking for keyboards or keycaps. These keycaps are made by molding two pieces of plastic together uniquely.

The legend on the keycap is usually distinct from the main housing of the keycap. Since the legends are independent pieces of molded plastic, this double shot procedure guarantees that they won’t fade with time.

Another way to add legends to keycaps is to have them printed on. These printed legends, however, are vulnerable to deterioration over time.

As you use the double shot PBT keycaps on the keyboard, the surface will eventually wear down from the continual friction of your fingertips. Keycaps with a double shot will never lose their sharpness or consistency.

Despite using two pieces instead of one, you can’t tell since the keycap’s surface is still consistently smooth despite the legend.

What Else Do I Need To Swap Out My Keycaps?

Keycap replacement is a snap! For the time being, the keycap puller is all you’ll need. Each switch has a stem, and a simple friction fit attaches a keycap.

Keycap pullers go under the keycaps on both sides and pull them out. Once the stem is aligned, push down to secure the new keycap. Isn’t it simple?

Are high-end keycaps and brand names worth the additional money?

GMK keycaps and Signature Classics are well-known for their high-quality items, but their costs reflect that reputation. You don’t need to shell out a fortune for a high-quality set of keycaps.

There are lovely keycap sets from businesses like Mistel, EnjoyPBT, and Akko that can be had for a fraction of the price of some of the more well-known brands, such as Acer, Dell, and Microsoft.

6 Pro & Quick Keycap Shopping Tips

  • In terms of color, ABS is superior, whereas PBT is better for durability. 
  • While low-cost custom keycaps sets aren’t always a terrible thing, they’re often plagued by poor quality control.
  • Legends printed using dye-sublimation rather than double-shot technology are preferable in most cases.
  • Profile of a keycap impacts both sound and feel. Be sure to check out typing demos and weigh your options before you purchase.
  • If the keycap is thicker, the better it is. Thickly walled keycaps might feel more substantial to the touch. 
  • Avoid thin, laser-engraved aftermarket keycaps unless you care about RGB.

Are There Other Types Of Keycaps?

Keycaps by GMK– Keycap manufacturer GMK (for Gunther, Meinhardt, and Kreidler) is well-known for its premium keycaps of the highest caliber.

POM Keycaps: Keycaps made of POM (Polyoxymethylene) provide a distinctive feel that some users like. Additionally, POM keycaps tend to have thinner walls than ABS or PBT, which means that lights may shine through the key in certain situations.

Double Shot Keycaps: Injection molding creates a double shot keycap, with a legend on one layer and a hull on the other.

Pudding Keycaps: With a transparent bottom layer and an opaque top layer for the legends, Pudding keycaps have a dual-layer design that enables RGB lights to show significantly more than they would in a standard double shot key.

Personalized Keycaps: Custom keycap sets can be created in various techniques, including injection molding and 3D printing, making the process more accessible.

Precisely What Is In The Name Of A Keyset?

Profile or manufacturer names are common additions to keyset names. It’s possible to deduce the kind of profile used by certain manufacturers since they only employ one sort of profile. When it comes to examples:

Future Funk by GMK– This is a profile of a cherry tree. Cherry profile and ABS double-shot plastic are used by GMK abs and GMK keycap. The name of the keyset design is Future Funk.

With the PBT of Infinity– PBT plastic and a Cherry profile. Keyboard manufacturer Infinity uses Cherry profiles and PBT dye-sub signature plastics in their creations. The name of the keyset design is Port.

Abbreviations used in the names of keysets include the following:

  • BoW- White on Black. This is a white keycap profile with black inscriptions.
  • R2- The second round has begun. This indicates that the keyset is being re-run after a successful first attempt.
  • WoB- Black and White. This is a black keycap with white legends.

People Often Ask More

How Awful Are Abs Keycaps?

In general, ABS products are considered lower quality than those made of other materials. They glow at ten times the quicker rate than that of PBT. Because they’re so commonly available, they’re also thinner and of worse quality than most PBT caps. For the most part, PBT caps are thicker, more durable, and more resistant to shine than ABS ones.

Is The PBT Material Used In Razer Keycaps?

PBT-plastic double-shot keycap sets from Razer include shine-through legends and four distinct colors of PBT-plastic material (black, pink, white, and green). These sets support all ISO and ANSI standard layouts. Stabilizers for Razer optical and mechanical keyboards are also included in keycap manufacturing.

Do The Yellowing Effects Of PBT Plastic Go Off Over Time?

Keycaps made of PBT are some of the strongest and most durable on the market. In contrast to ABS, PBT does not become yellow when exposed to UV radiation. It is a suitable option for dying in a hot dye bath because of its heat resistance.

Is Double Shot PBT Worth It?

Rebranded Tai Hao hats, but they’re good ones anyway. Great product! I purchased two sets to replace the poor quality ABS caps on two of my Das Keyboard Model S Professionals (one for me and my father). Capacitors alone aren’t the issue; it’s the boards like Cherry MX switches.

What Is The Lifespan Of ABS Keycaps?

Somewhat lengthy. Unlike PBT, they will not get glossy after many years of heavy usage. Keys on my Das Keyboard keycaps (v3) were still polished after 6-8 months, while the UV coating on my WASD v2 TKL had peeled off in as little as two months.

Conclusion

That was a perfect discussion between the ABS vs PBT keycaps, in my opinion. In reality, both PBT and ABS have advantages and disadvantages, with ABS generally being seen as the better option.

In the view of some, ABS is superior because it delivers a feel that certain people enjoy, which may make it better for some individuals. I hope this comparative post has been helpful to you in making your selection.

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